Film Ramblings: JAWS(1975) The Greatest Drinking Blockbuster of All Time (Part 1)


Steven Spielberg’s JAWS is my favorite movie. I have probably seen it five hundred times. If you count the late night drunk viewings that I don’t quite remember, the number goes up a few dozen ticks. It has even helped me get laid a few times, I shit you not. As my friend, a reckless Lothario,  once told me, “Chicks dig seeing guys passionate about something. Anything. Even you slurring and drooling your way through a JAWS analysis at Minnesota’s can help you bag a barfly.” Minnesota’s is an overcrowded bar in Long Beach, NY, where I lived for about twenty years. I always hated that bar. Too many guidos, muscleheads and Montell Jordan tunes. This was the nineties. By the way, I am not sure if that was the exact quote because I was probably taking on a little hair of the dog when he said it.

I hesitate to write about JAWS because I don’t want to spit the bit, fuck up something I love. Maybe the feeling would be similar if someone had to give their wife the Heimlich Maneuver when she started choking on a chicken bone during a romantic dinner? Perhaps it is your overwhelming insensitivity towards her feminine needs that is suffocating her? You would probably want her life in the hands of someone more capable and confident. Or maybe not? You might possibly go into the tv room,  watch a Seinfeld rerun and wait until she turns a deeper shade of purple before you pick up that old rotary phone and dial 911. I hear marriage is tough.

JAWS has been dissected more times than a pig fetus in biology class. I remember how bad that fucking thing smelled. Like seeing your parents banging on the living room couch, the formaldehyde turned my stomach. It also could have been the piss warm keg of domestic beer from the previous night. Again, I went to college in the nineties. Craft beers weren’t the thing and I didn’t have the money anyway.

Scholars, film historians, actors and directors have all waxed poetic about its influence on Hollywood and pop culture, in general. What then, can I offer that brings something new to the battered table in the Orca’s cabin? I am just an IT tech and third rate writer who spends a great portion of his savings on Tullamore Dew and Asian escorts. Chinese takeout sometimes has a different meaning with me. I am no cinematic master like Eli Roth or respected thespian like Charlie Sheen, so I hope I can illuminate some people. I do share some of the same recreational pursuits as Mr. Sheen. We both love JAWS.

Write what you know.

There is no way the Politically Correct bedwetters in Hollywood would make JAWS the same way today as they did forty two years ago. It is much too bloody. Its PG rating would easily be an R in today’s society that sees snowflakes drifting to the ground, even in the summer months. JAWS has a disturbing scene of a ten year old kid getting chomped on an inflatable raft, blood shooting into the air like a fountain filled with red wine. There is a fair share of colorful language. A boy scout leader drops an ethnic slur about Asians on a kid making his mile swim for his merit badge. It is tough to hear because there are no phones out there. However, the worst offense JAWS makes against the weak-kneed PC police might be the amount of smoking of cigarettes and drinking of booze in it.

Especially the drinking.

God forbid we show adults smoking and drinking on the big screen anymore. The little nose pickers might pick up some bad habits. The parents aren’t around to teach them right from wrong because their Uptown shrinks have them drugged down like one of George Romero’s shuffling, drooling zombies. Give the kiddies an iPad and let the internet raise them. While we’re at it, to Hell with the saying God forbid. We don’t believe in Him anymore. Hearing a sermon is like hearing nails dragged slowly across a chalkboard. Religion is a bad fish. A little shaking, a little tenderizing and down we go.

JAWS is the greatest drinking blockbuster of all time. Several key scenes revolve around drinking. We’re not talking a glass of wine or never touched pint of beer that are used as props for a scene. A few characters get fairly plastered. Apparently, this happened quite a bit off screen, as well. I myself can hear John Williams’ classic theme in my fuzzy head when the bartender rewards my philanthropy with free shots of whiskey. When I rise from my sarcophagus the next morning, it feels like a great white shark has used me as a chew toy.

Love to prove that wouldn’t you, Tarmac? Get your name into the National Geographic.

I have no idea if someone more intelligent and witty than me has already written about the amount of drinking in JAWS. At least I can say that I am probably better looking than them. I have a face like a Picasso from his Cubism period. That is fine art, for all you Philistines out there. I will try to not bore the readers to death, my mundane words dangling lifelessly like Quint’s skin from the shark’s razor sharp teeth.

About a minute after we see the Universal logo and hear those tantalizingly awesome underwater sonar sounds and Williams’ iconic score kicks in, we see a bunch of young people having a clam bake on a beach. There is quite a bit of alcohol drinking going on and we can almost smell the grass being smoked in the twilight. There is some hippie strumming wimpy tunes on an acoustic guitar. Chicks dig the musicians, man. I bet the dudes from Seals and Crofts got to bed many a woman after singing about the “Summer Breeze”. Their conquests could most likely fill a women’s penitentiary run by a sweaty, sadistic warden. ” Diamond Girl”,  we’re gonna toss your cell.

An inebriated blond man shuffles across the sand to put the moves on a comely lass who is sitting by herself. Sharks always go for the seal that is separated from the herd. This dude wants some action. She wants to go swimming. Crazy broads, never doing what you want when you want it done. He still has a shot to get laid, so he stumbles over the dunes as she undresses and slides gracefully into the bay, doing a bit of water ballet as she swims towards a large buoy. This is pretty brave of her. Who knows what could be swimming near one of those markers in the sea? That thought always fascinated me and gives me the chills. The bell tolls as a wave nudges it, reminding us how many people lost their lives beneath the surface. Perhaps it was more than the tide that moved that buoy? That dark water is horror incarnate.

It appears that copious amounts of drinking may have saved this horny trust fund baby’s life. The booze has knocked him for a loop, leaving him passed out at the shoreline like a soldier cut down on Omaha Beach. We can’t be sure if the girl, Chrissie Watkins, was drunk when she slid into the night surf. However, feeling the cold water hit her face as the sky grows dark, probably woke her up. When the shark takes a first bite out of her beneath the surface, we can be sure she was as sober as a church mouse.

Spielberg shocks the audience with this scene. There is not one drop of blood, yet watching her get wrenched around in the bay by an unseen force with almost Biblical power, water filling her mouth and nose, is nauseating. We learn that listening to someone drown and getting torn apart beneath the surface is not a pleasant experience. The camera cuts back to the drunk young man, passed out on the beach, unaware of the grisly death happening on the water. When he wakes up, he will lament the missed opportunity with the beautiful woman with the tight, swimmer’s body.


This fish swims on here








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